Future of cheques shouldn't be down to banks and building societies

A Treasury Select Committee said in a report published today that banks should reassure cheque-using customers by writing to them to confirm that they will be honoured as a method of payment for 'the foreseeable future.' The report added that banks should consider reintroducing the cheque guarantee card.

Committee chairman Andrew Tyrie MP said: 'Cheques have been saved, for the moment, but we need to remain vigilant. The incentives for the industry to get rid of cheques has not gone away. The Payments Council is an industry-dominated body with no effective public accountability. It should not have unfettered power to take decisions on matters, such as the future of cheques, or other issues, that are of vital importance to millions of people.'

The news will bolster cheque-lovers, just weeks after the Payments Council was forced to axe plans to scrap cheques altogether by 2018.

The committee said: 'Of the independent members of the board, only one has a consumer background. Consumers are entitled to be suspicious of the motives of a body with such a composition proposing measures that are in the financial interests of its members.'

Now MPs are mooting the idea that the Treasury should enshrine in the new Financial Services Bill the right of the Financial Conduct Authority 'to intervene to protect bank customers by preventing cheques being withdrawn.' Gary Hocking, chief executive of the Payments Council, said that the industry would 'ensure that we have plans in place to continue to process cheques efficiently and securely despite falling numbers.'

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